by Sindiso Moyo and Sinikiwe Mlambo

The Harare-based prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa has launched “spiritual airtime cards”, a service that will link him with his church members in need of spiritual guidance.

Members of Makandiwa’s United Family International (UFI), who declined to be named, said the spiritual airtime cards, which are the first of their kind in Zimbabwe, were officially launched last Sunday, July 26, at the City Sports Centre in the capital. “The service is yet to cascade to Bulawayo and other parts of the country where there are members of UFI. We are yet to see the cards,” said one member of the church.

The Mail reports that in Harare  the airtime recharge cards have become popular with the UFI church-goers and are selling like hot cakes. The cards are pink in colour and have a yellow flair at the bottom. The spiritual link cards are going for 3 USD for communication within the country and 6 USD to communicate with prophet Makandiwa when he is out of the country.

The link cards read, “This recharge card subscribes you to receive devotional messages for six days from the Man of God, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, and Not just a text; it’s a life-changing link.”

Members of the UFI Church Bulawayo welcomed the idea saying that it will enable them to communicate with their prophet directly, but expressed concern that the service was not yet accessible to them. “I am happy about the spiritual card; it will enable me to talk to my spiritual father since most of us in this part of the country are unable to communicate with our prophet,” said Chipo Chikore.

“Great innovation from the prophet, we thank him for making our lives easy, all will have a chance to communicate with the man of God even when he is outside the country. This is great wisdom, thank man of God,” said a vividly happy member of UFI Bulawayo, Nomsa Sibanda.

“Prophets were never known to solicit for money from the congregation and this spiritual card is a new chapter in the commercialisation of the Gospel in Zimbabwe,” said Alfred Sithole. “But as Christians why this emphasis on money when Jesus says in Mark 10:17-25 to the rich man that you cannot serve God and money. This is one scheme that is designed to make money for the so-called prophet,” said Mlamuli Ndlovu.

As reported by The Mail, Zimbabwe’s leading telecommunications network Econet Wireless said they were not involved in the service. 

The airtime card inscribed “Christian Spiritual Link” which costs US$3. Members scratch the card and send the numbers to some cellphone
numbers depending on each member’s network service. Those with Econet lines send the secret numbers to 0773 341 040 to 59, Telecel subscribers to 0714 768 502 to 11 while those with NetOne lines send to 0735 451 851 to 60.

After sending the numbers, one receives confirmation on his or her phone and from there he or she receives devotional SMS messages from prophet Makandiwa for six consecutive days.